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Saturday, October 15, 2011

"River of Deceit"

Mad Season - River of Deceit (1995)

The other grunge supergroup.

Many people know Temple of the Dog, made up of members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam (albeit before they became Pearl Jam). This group, Mad Season, was made up of members of Alice in Chains, The Walkabouts, Screaming Trees, and Pearl Jam. Released a year after the suicide of Kurt Cobain, as the grunge scene was dying; the song is in no way a light note. It is a down track that seems to be about the addiction that singer Layne Staley was fighting which would ultimately take his life. Like the songs on the Pearl Jam album Ten, this track was written as an instrumental jam and then the singer came along and added his vocals.

Musically, we've got a good track here. Not a great track, but nice. The drums are really sparse, mostly we hear a ride cymbal and 'click' of a drumstick on the edge of a snare. There is almost no tom or bass drum, and very little crash cymbal. This is of note because drummer Barrett Martin is known for his heavy tom use. At least, that's what the Internet says. Bass wise I have very little to say, he's holding the song together, but it doesn't resonate with me. Mike McCready is the primary lead guitarist for Pearl Jam. His guitar work here is very technically good. It's a little loose and jangly, but the song needed something to lift it up out of the darkness. I'm not feeling anything emotionally attached to the guitar parts, it's as I said earlier: the song was written as a instrumental jam, therefore it was always going to be a platform for something else. Staley's vocals are touching here. His lyrics are raw and the vocal sound really adds to your connection to them. As a platform for Staley, the song shines.

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